22 WordPress SEO Plugins For Optimizing Your Site In 2021

2019 WordPress SEO Plugins

Looking for that perfect list of WordPress SEO plugins?

This list goes way beyond Rank Math, SEOPress, and Yoast. It also dives into schema, redirects, image alt text, table of contents, and more. The speed plugins (#14) include 19 plugins in itself!

A lot has changed in recent years – Rank Math won over many Yoast users, Google cracked down on schema (and many schema plugins have become completely outdated and obsolete). SEOPress became popular with Oxygen Builder, and of course, we want faster core web vitals.

With all that said, I’m making a point to keep this tutorial updated. I only included the best SEO plugins (no duplicates). So if you dig it, be sure to check out my list of WordPress speed plugins.

You can install as many WordPress SEO plugins as you like, but Google really wants to see organized, in-depth content around long-tail keywords that is better than the top results. That means choosing very specific phrases, adding a TOC, and writing long (3,000+ word) content.

Numbers #1-3 and #12 are paid or freemium plugins.

 

1. Rank Math

Here’s why I replaced Yoast with Rank Math:

  • Less bloat (almost half the lines of code as Yoast) = faster site.
  • Features include everything in Yoast Premium (and more) for free.
  • Advertisements aren’t intrusive (Yoast needs the Hide SEO Bloat plugin).
  • Automatic alt text for images (otherwise you would need another plugin).
  • Premium version gives very detailed analytics from Google Search Console.
  • The setup wizard made it easy to import everything from Yoast to Rank Math.
  • Supports every major schema type and is easy to add (I use reviews and FAQs).

Rank Math is also the #1 WordPress SEO plugin in most Facebook polls (click thumbnails to enlarge). Adam from WPCrafter and many major bloggers have aready moved to Rank Math.

Rank Math’s modules outline it’s main features which you can switch on/off:

Rank-Math-Modules

I really like the red and green arrows in Rank Math’s analytics (pro feature) which quickly show whether your metrics have increase or decreased over a period of time (and the position chart). Google Search Console lets you compare time periods but it doesn’t have those handy arrows.

Rank-Math-Search-Analytics-Keywords

Rank Math has tons of schema types so you don’t need a plugin for that anymore.

Rank-Math-Schema

The setup wizard lets you easily migrate everything from Yoast and other SEO plugins:

Yoast-To-Rank-Math

If you use Rank Math, you don’t need many plugins in this list (Schema, Structured Content, Automatic Image Alt Attributes, most redirect/schema plugins, and Yoast’s Premium plugins).

I highly recommend reviewing my on-page SEO checklist for even better tips. Getting “green lights” doesn’t mean your content will rank. Try adding a TOC, video, and meticulously crafting content to be as straightforward and practical as possible.

 

2. SEOPress

SEOPress is mainly used by people who build sites in Oxygen Builder, since Rank Math and Oxygen have had a long history of compatibility issues. That’s why if you look at those Facebook polls on best SEO plugins, Rank Math is usually #1 except in Oxygen-related posts.

There is a free version and as well as an SEOPress pro version which includes structured data, schema, 404 monitor, and other features that make the pro version comparable to Rank Math.

SEOPress

 

3. Schema Pro

If you’re using Rank Math, it already does a great job adding schema.

However, most other schema plugins do not add the markup properly, are coded poorly, or just aren’t kept updated. Anyone remember when the developer of WP Rich Snippets disappeared?

The Schema plugin by Brainstorm Force (developers from Astra) is really the only plugin I trust to add schema properly. It supports all major schema types and is relatively easy to use, however I found Rank Math to be slightly easier. The only other schema plugins I would consider is WP Recipe Maker and Structured Content which are only for recipes and FAQs.

Google cracked down on schema and warns of penalizing sites if there are errors. It’s super important to use a reliable plugin to add schema. Many people also swear to do it manually.

Schema rich snippets plugin

 

4. Structured Content

Structured content only supports FAQ schema. So if you’re not using Rank Math and don’t want to pay for the premium Schema plugin from Brainstorm Force or SEOPress pro, the Structured Content plugin is a great alternative. Here are simple instructions for adding FAQ rich snippets.

Structured Content JSON-LD wpsc – WordPress plugin

Instructions

  • Install the Structured Content plugin.
  • Edit a page or post and click the FAQ icon.
  • Add your questions and answers (I recommend 3-8).
  • Clear the page’s cache.
  • In Google Search Console, request the URL to be indexed via Google’s URL Inspector.

FAQ Google Snippets

 

5. LuckyWP Table Of Contents

Why would a table of contents plugin be on my list of SEO plugins?

Because adding a TOC to long pages/posts has HUGE benefits. Google says:

Ensure that long, multi-topic pages on your site are well-structured and broken into distinct logical sections. Second, ensure that each section has an associated anchor with a descriptive name (i.e., not just “Section 2.1”), and that your page includes a table of contents which links to individual anchors.

LuckyWP Table of Contents automatically adds a table of contents based on your subheadings and includes anchors (links) so your users can jump and link to specific sections in your content.

LuckyWP Table Of Contents

What That Means For You:

  • Change of your TOC list being awarded a features snippet (see image below).
  • Better chance of being awarded jump-to links in Google using named anchors.
  • People can link to specific sections on your post (not just your single permalink).
  • People can immediately find what they want and spend more time on your page.

List Featured Snippets

If you don’t want to use an extra plugin for your table of contents, you can add a TOC using HTML/CSS and style it yourself. Here is my TOC GitHub template which I still use to this day.

 

6. Automatic Image Alt Attributes

One day, WordPress stopped adding alt text to images automatically.

Thankfully, this plugin will do it for you. Just install it and it will use the image file name as your alt text. That means you can stop wasting your time writing alt text for every single image like I used to. Just remember to label your image file name before uploading them to WordPress.

If you’re using Rank Math, they have an option to add alt text to images automatically.

Rank Math Alt Attribute

 

7. Google Site Kit

Google Site Kit combines Google’s most people tools (Search Console, Analytics, AdSense, PageSpeed Insights) into 1 WordPress plugin. You really don’t need this plugin (just go to the actual websites), but if you want to see these in your dashboard, this gives you that option.

Site Kit by Google

 

8. Republish Old Posts

This plugin resets your post’s publish dates to current day, making your content look fresh:

Publish Date

This is an easy way to increase click-through rates. Of course, people might wonder why your content says it was updated when it actually wasn’t. It’s pretty cheap, so proceed with warning.

Step 1: Find the entry meta section of your blog (the section at the very top of your posts) which for me is in the Genesis Simple Edits settings. Now include the post modified date.

Entry Meta

What this looks like on your posts:

Entry Post Modified Date

Step 2: Enable date in snippet preview (or similar) in your SEO plugin.

Date-In-Snippet-Preview-Yoast

Step 3: Install the Republish Old Posts plugin and configure the settings. You can choose how often the plugin resets your publish dates under “post age before eligible for republishing.” Even if you don’t use this plugin, you should usually enable publish dates in search results then keep the content updated. Any time you edit a post and click the ‘publish’ the date will refresh.

Republish Old Posts

 

Still the best way to check all broken links on your WordPress site.

Detects broken links in pages, posts, comments, images, and even redirects. Dr. Link Check is good, but Broken Link Checker lets you fix them inside WordPress with 1-click options to edit or unlink each one. Of course, not having broken links on your website can improve your SEO.

Broken Link Checker Plugin

Here’s what it looks like:

Broken Link Checker

Warning: this plugin continuously runs scans and sucks up high amounts of bandwidth. I recommend fixing all broken links then immediately deleting the plugin when you’re done.

 

10. Quick Page/Post Redirect

When you change permalinks, you need to setup a redirect to the new page.

Quick Page Post Redirect Plugin

How To Setup A Redirect: Install it and go to “Quick Redirects.” Enter the old URL + new URL.

301 Redirect WordPress

Find Crawl Errors: Go to the crawl errors report in Google Search Console section to see all broken pages on your site, then use this plugin to redirect each one to the new, correct URL.

Yoast Search Console Crawl Errors

 

11. ShortPixel

ShortPixel is generally the best WordPress plugin for optimizing images.

It lets you losslessly compress images, strip EXIF data, and optimize them in other ways. Simply install the plugin, test a few images to make sure you’re satisfied with the image quality, then bulk optimize all images on your site. It also lets you optimize images once uploaded.

ShortPixel Settings

 

12. WP Rocket

WordPress says:

The Caching section gives you the biggest benefit for the smallest hassle.

WP Rocket is #1 in most Facebook polls (click thumbnails to enlarge):

Why WP Rocket Is #1 In Facebook Polls

  • It’s easy to configure.
  • It yields fast load times.
  • It has extensive documentation.
  • It shouldn’t break your site (like some cache plugins).
  • It has tons of features most cache plugins don’t – lazy loading photos/videos/iframes, database cleanup, integration with Cloudflare + other CDNs, local Google Fonts and Analytics, Sucuri integration, etc. With most other cache plugins, you would need to install about 6 extra plugins to get these features, when WP Rocket has them built-in.

For how important it is, WP Rocket is worth $49/year. They also let you renew your license at 50% off so it’s really $24.50/year after the 1st year. And you can also get 10% off the initial price if you sign up for their email list. Check out my WP Rocket guide for setup instructions.

 

13. Asset CleanUp

Asset CleanUp lets you selectively disable plugins from loading on certain pages. Some plugins load on every single piece of content even if it’s not being used there. Disabling these plugins can reduce the number of requests on the page and make them load faster. Asset CleanUp is similar to Plugin Organizer (Perfmatters lets you do this too), only it’s free and simple to use.

Examples:

  • Disable slider plugin on pages that don’t use sliders
  • Disable rich snippets plugin on pages that don’t use rich snippets
  • Disable contact form plugin on pages that don’t have a contact form
  • Disable social sharing plugin on all pages (since it’s usually for blog posts)
  • Disable affiliate link management plugin on pages that don’t use affiliate links

 

14. Speed Optimization Plugins

Speed is a ranking factor (duh).

OMM GTmetrix 2021
Even long posts with tons of images and 600 comments still load in about 1s with a 51ms TTFB

Here are some great plugins for speeding up WordPress.

I use many of these on my site which contributed to my 100% GTmetrix scores. Migrating from EIG and low quality hosts like GoDaddy to SiteGround and Cloudways was another big reason.

  1. WP Rocket –  #1 cache plugin in most Facebook polls. Comes with heartbeat control, lazy loading, database cleanup, and hosting fonts + analytics locally. This means you don’t need to install these extra plugins if using WP Rocket.
  2. WP Fastest Cache – #1 free cache plugin in most polls. Also easy to configure, has options for Cloudflare + other CDNs, but lacks features from WP Rocket.
  3. WP-Optimize – cleans your database of spam, trash, and other junk files.
  4. Heartbeat Control – disables the WordPress heartbeat API which consumes resources by sending real-time notifications, when uses are editing a post, etc.
  5. Lazy Load – delays loading photos until users scroll down and see them (improves load times but constantly loading photos as you scroll is annoying).
  6. WP YouTube Lyte – delays loading videos/iframes until users scroll down and see them. Videos take a long time to load – this can shave many seconds off.
  7. CDN Enabler – helps set up your content delivery network (I use StackPath).
  8. CAOS (Host Google Analytics Locally) – fixes the “leverage browser caching” issues in GTmetrix by hosting your Google Analytics tracking code locally.
  9. OMGF – hosts fonts locally and fixes Google Font errors in GTmetrix + Pingdom by downloading your Google Fonts and creating a stylesheet for it.
  10. ShortPixelImagify / Smushimage optimization (lossless compression, resize images, remove EXIF data). All these are similar – you only need one.
  11. Specify Image Dimensions – adds a width/height to your image’s HTML, an item in GTmetrix. It only works for images in the visual editor, it does not work for images in page builders, widgets, or any areas outside the visual editor.
  12. AMP For WPadds AMP pages to make mobile pages load faster and gives your site an “AMP Stamp” in mobile search results. However, Kinsta’s conversions dropped 59% when using AMP and I have not used them since.
  13. Clearfy / Perfmattersdisables unnecessary functions in WordPress core (trackbacks, pingbacks, heartbeat API, REST API, and other things 99% of you don’t need). Both plugins are similar and have other speed features as well.
  14. Harry’s Gravatar Cachecaches Gravatars, making comments load faster.
  15. GTmetrix for WordPress – keep track of load times and set email alerts.
  16. Display PHP Versionshows which PHP version you’re running (should be at least 7) which has a huge speed impact. You can upgrade in your host’s cPanel.
  17. Query Monitor – see slowest plugins, queries, etc (good replacement for P3).
  18. Autoptimize – if you’re using GoDaddy, WP Engine, or other hosts who blacklist caching plugins, this plugin still gives you the benefits of optimizing HTML/CSS/JavaScript (items in GTmetrix + Pingdom) but without the caching.
  19. WP Hosting Performance Check – tells you if your server is slow and whether your speed technology (PHP, MySQL, WordPress versions) need updating.

 

15. Rel Nofollow Checkbox

If you’re using affiliate links, this adds a nofollow option when adding links in WordPress. Otherwise, you would have to go into the link’s HTML and add nofollow manually. Saves time.

 

16. Yoast Premium Plugins

Spoiler: Yoast claims their premium plugins lift heaven and earth when in reality you will probably not see any direct improvements just by purchasing their WordPress SEO plugins.

Conclusion: Yoast’s premium plugins aren’t worth the money.

WordPress SEO plugins by Yoast

Yoast SEO Premium ($89/year) – I wrote a review on it, basically explaining how most features can be done with free plugins or are simply not valuable, especially for $89/year.

  • Redirect manager – use the free Quick Page/Post Redirect plugin.
  • Internal linking suggestions – do you really need a plugin for this?
  • Multiple focus keywords – doesn’t always detect partial match keywords.
  • Content insights – shows 5 top used words (keyword density barely matters).
  • Social preview – as long as you’re uploading social media images, you’re OK.
  • Support – I have heard many stories of them just referring people to tutorials.

Yoast Video SEO Plugin ($69/year) – create a video sitemap and markup pages so video thumbnails appear in Google Videos. Of course, most people go to Google’s regular search engine, so this will likely only pay off if you’re creating lots of videos especially how-to style.

Yoast Local SEO Plugin ($69/year) – adds a KML file, schema.org, and the option to embed a Google Map and store locator. Embedding a Google Map is easy, and most information Yoast “optimizes” for is already pulled from your Google My Business page. Yoast says this plugin “tells Google everything it needs to know to put you on top in local search results” which is not true considering Google’s local ranking factors have little to do with Yoast’s local SEO plugin.

Yoast Google News Plugin ($69/year) – doesn’t actually get you in Google News (see those steps here) but helps format content for Google News by creating an XML News Sitemap.

Yoast WooCommerce SEO Plugin ($49/year) – enables rich pins for Pinterest.

 

17. Analytify

See a glimpse of your Google Analytics directly in WordPress.

Analytify Dashboard

 

18. Really Simple SSL

This plugin “automatically detects your settings and configures your website to run over https.” Of course, you still need an SSL to use it, but Really Simple SSL makes it easy to set it up.

Let’s Encrypt SSL is the most popular free SSL and is what I use. Google cracked down on non-HTTPs sites even harder in July, 2018 when they began showing not secure in Google Chrome.

Really Simple SSL

Features:

  • Mixed content fixer
  • Enable WordPress 301 redirection to SSL
  • Enable 301 .htaccess redirect
  • Enable Javascript redirection to SSL

 

19. Better Search Replace

Why is a search/replace plugin on the list?

Because if you changed www or http(s) versions, you will need to bulk update all links on your website to reflect the new version. That’s where this plugin comes into play – I suggest HTTPS and non-www. Simply search the old version of your domain and replace it with the new one.

Better Search Replace – WWW Versions

Cool Trick: if you use the same image on multiple pages, this is an easy to way update them all.

 

20. Anti-Spam

Spam kills blogs. JetPack says

Spammers may leave link or keyword-filled comments on your site in an attempt to direct more traffic to their sites (and boost their own SEO). With enough spam, your rankings could take a hit, through no fault of your own.

The Anti-Spam plugin is captcha-free and does a superb job filtering spam comments, while leaving the good ones. Spam is a huge problem with WordPress. This plugin will save you time.

 

21. WP Google My Business Auto Publish

Posting updates your Google My Business page has becoming increasingly important in Google’s 2018 local search ranking factors. This plugin publishes your WordPress content directly to your Google My Business Page. It’s still in the early stages, but has terrific reviews.

2018 Local Search Ranking Factors

Here are some of the plugin settings:

WP Google My Business Auto Publish

 

22. StudioPress Plugins

If you’re using a StudioPress theme or Genesis Framework (which I recommend), you need to be using StudioPress plugins. These are on my list because they are lightweight, reliable, and will keep your load time (and chances of errors) to a minimal, making your site run smoothly.

studiopress-genesis-plugins

 

Other SEO Tools You Should Know About

  • Answer The Public – coolest keyword research tool (photo below). Pulls keywords from Google Autocomplete and creates a visual map based on different keyword types (questions, prepositions, comparisons). The greener the circle, the more competitive the keyword is. Question keywords are a great way to make sure your content is comprehensive (it answers the most popular questions people are searching). My favorite keyword research tool.
  • Moz Local – analyzes your top 15 citations (GMB, Yelp, YellowPages, etc) and shows incomplete, inconsistent, and duplicate profiles. Try to get 100% scores!
  • Moz Link Explorer – shows link metrics, as well as your domain authority which is an indicator of how competitive your targeted keywords should be.
  • MozBar – Google any keyword and see each search result’s DA (domain authority) and PA (page authority). The higher they are, the more competitive the keyword is. Try competing with sites that have similar domain authority.
  • Moz Keyword Explorer – basically Google Keyword Planner, only better. Shows organic competition (unlike Keyword Planner which is for AdWords). Shows monthly search volume and has tons of filters for sorting keywords.
  • Keywords Everywhere – Google any keyword and see monthly search volume, estimated competition, and CPC directly in search results. Also works for YouTube, Amazon, Etsy, Google Analytics and other programs/search engines.
  • SEMrush – one of the most extensive SEO softwares are the market, literally telling you everything about your keywords, backlinks, content SEO, and analytics. Many metrics can’t be found in Google Analytics or Search Console.
  • Google Autocomplete – my favorite trick is “fill in the blank” where you use the underline character _ to have Google (yes you guessed it) fill in the blank. Try it with Chicago _ Photographer. You must end on the underline character.
  • Google Search Console – See errors with your site (indexing, security, mobile, AMP, sitemap, penalties), SEO titles/meta descriptions that are too short or long, set your preferred domain name (www vs. non-www), international targeting, Search Analytics (my favorite way to measure overall SEO + CTRs), links to your site, and data highlighter for structured data. You need to use it.
  • Google Trends – see keyword trends in specific geographies (and YouTube).
  • Cloudflare – free CDN with 200+ data centers which can be setup with most cache plugins. Has additional features like accelerated mobile links, hotlink protection, Railgun, and Page Rules. Improves both site speed and security.
  • Dr. Link Check – scans entire site for broken links (up to 7,500/month) but does not provide a user-friendly way to fix them directly in your WordPress dashboard (like Broken Link Checker does, but BLC does consume CPU).
  • Copyscape – prevents plagarism (searches the web for copies of your content).
  • Semify Web Grader – see full list of competitors keywords and a side-by-side comparison of backlinks, domain authority, and highest ranked pages.
  • StackPath – CDN with 30+ data centers (mostly in the US). More data centers = faster content delivery, which is why I use both Cloudflare and StackPath.
  • Siteliner – checks entire site for duplicate content and highlights it.
  • Screaming Frog – extensive (free) SEO audit tool which shows missing alt text, SEO titles, meta descriptions, URLs, AMP, sitemaps, and also integrates with Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and many other SEO tools.
  • vidIQ – search any keyword in YouTube and see key metrics that indicate how competitive the keyword is. Based on likes, views, shares, comments, etc.
  • SEOquake – Chrome extension which is great for keyword research. Shows each search result’s links, Alexa rank, domain age, indexed pages, keyword analytics, internal links, external links, and many other (customizable) metrics.
  • Contact Form 7 Google Analytics – adds event tracking to all your CF7 forms.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best free WordPress SEO plugin?

Rank Math and Yoast are the best free SEO plugins to help you optimize your content based on keywords. They also create an XML sitemap automatically, help you set up Google Search Console, and customize which content is indexed in search engines.

Is Yoast the best SEO plugin?

Yoast is one of the most popular SEO plugins, but that doesn't mean it's the best. Rank Math has everything included in Yoast SEO Premium, but it's free and more lightweight, leading to a faster website.

Is Yoast or Rank Math better?

Rank Math is arguably better than Yoast since it has more features, yet it's not as code-heavy. Yoast also shows advertisements in the WordPress dashboard which can be annoying.

Did I Miss Any Good SEO Plugins?
I hope this list was helpful! If you have questions about  any of these WordPress SEO plugins feel free to drop me a line in the comments and I’ll be glad to help you out. Remember, I have lots of tutorials on Yoast, WordPress speed optimization, and other SEO-related tutorials. If you have a question about those, please leave a comment on that specific tutorial. Finally, if you enjoyed this post, please share it with a friend who might like it too – I’d appreciate that.

Cheers,
Tom

About Tom Dupuis

Tom Dupuis 2017Tom Dupuis writes WordPress speed and SEO tutorials out of his apartment in Denver, Colorado. In his spare time, he plays Rocket League and watches murder documentaries. Read his bio to learn 50 random and disturbing things about him.

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